Poem God LiBai

clip image001 thumb2 Poem God LiBaiLi Bai (701-762 A.D.) was a Chinese poet. He is best known for the extravagant imagination and striking Daoist imagery in his poetry, as well as for his great love for liquor. He spent much of his life travelling. He is said to have drowned in the Yangzi River, having fallen from his boat while drunkenly trying to embrace the reflection of the moon.

His ability to create extraordinary out of ordinary was an unusual gift among his contemporaries, and was most likely the reason why he was considered the “Poem-God”. The fact that his Chinese nickname was “Shi Xian” (sh?xi?n, which translates literally into god of poetry) should itself prove it. The spontaneity of his language combined with the extravagance of his imagination distinguished Li Bai from any other poets in the Chinese history.

In his poems, Li Bai tried to avoid the use of obscure words and historical references. Unlike other ancient Chinese poets such as Du Fu, Li Bai had no need to prove himself to the public; instead, he could afford to concentrate on clip image003 thumb3 Poem God LiBaicommunicating his genuine feelings to the readers.

The following is the English translation of his poem “Cataract on Mountain Lu”.

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The sunlit Censer peak exhales a wreath of cloud;
Like an upended stream the cataract sounds loud.
Its torrent dashes down three thousand feet from high;
As if the Silver River fell from azure sky.


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One Response to Poem God LiBai

  1. Andra Leo says:

    Thank you for this translation – I recently visited Lushan and was aware that a great deal of poetry was written about it. I do not read Mandarin so finding this on the web was a great treat.

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